The promotional products industry is thriving not only in the United States, but also internationally.

Look no further than The PSI Show, the largest promotional products trade show in Europe, which was held January 9-11 at the Messegelände Düsseldorf in Germany.

“Representing the Association at events on other continents such as Europe and Africa has reinforced to me the importance of the ‘I’ in PPAI,” says Kevin Walsh, CAS, current board chair for PPAI and president of Showdown Displays. “All around the world, promotional products work and there is an opportunity and desire in these geographies for the leadership and guidance PPAI provides.”

Increased Attendance

The PSI Show featured 567 exhibitors and more than 10,500 attendees from 75 countries, up from 487 exhibitors last year, when the event returned to a live, in-person format for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Perhaps attendance would’ve been even greater if not for a three-day, nationwide rail strike currently impacting transportation, Reuters reported.

However, there were more attendees from the U.S. this year than usual due to The PPAI Expo 2024 – the largest and longest-running trade show in the promo industry – running the following week on January 15-18.  

“Every few years, The PPAI Expo and The PSI Show occur on non-overlapping dates, a result of scheduling dynamics related to how the calendar falls,” says Ellen Tucker, CAE, MAS, vice president of revenue and expositions at PPAI. “This alignment fosters a higher number of U.S.-based distributors to The PSI Show while also granting PPAI international distributor members the chance to participate in both shows.”

Walsh joined Andrew Spellman, CAS, incoming PPAI board chair and vice president of corporate markets at Therabody, and Dale Denham, MAS+, PPAI president and CEO, at the event to meet with international suppliers, distributors and industry association leaders.

“A key takeaway for me was the awareness and respect that PPAI has in the European and U.K. markets,” Walsh says.

Industry Education

In addition to international suppliers showcasing their latest products and services, The PSI Show presented educational sessions, speeches and discussions on pressing industry matters, such as sustainability, a shortage of skilled workers, unstable supply chains and digitalization.

“Of particular note for me in the European market that PSI supports was the emphasis on sustainability,” Spellman says. “It’s a huge driver of innovation and product direction, and they market this as a competitive advantage for their efforts. We can take this cue from them to make sure that we are taking the appropriate steps to advance the U.S. market in this direction as well, including how we share this with the end user companies that we’re selling to.”

PSI also launched a “Museum of Promotional Articles,” one of the largest galleries of its kind. The globally researched, 170 square meter exhibit highlights how promo products came about, what their original purpose was and what the future of this marketing tool could look like. The exhibit includes 11 interactive room installations and an integrated museum shop.

“It was a very informative and educational experience learning of the similarities – and distinctions – across continents and markets,” Walsh says.